Thursday, February 08, 2018

Just Hold That Thought

I will be on the plane in about than 36 hours and on my way to an exotic locale. Actually, I will make several stops along the way and be gone for 22 days!!  Yes, I have not packed bags or prepared for that long of a trip in a long time. It means I have to have the P.O. hold the mail, prepay some monthly bills, let the credit card and phone companies and bank know where I will be so that they continue to let me use my phone and my money.

I have to think how to pack as frugally as possible. There will be no need for fancy clothes, so that will help a lot. I have prepared my list of vaccinations, my passport is up-to-date and I even needed a visa for this trip and that is attached! Where am I going?  I will keep you in suspense until I either get there or post a photo or two from my Kindle or until I get back home and recover from post-trip exhaustion.

I will be leaving behind plants that are just coming into beauty and I actually have someone coming in to take care of them bi-weekly so that I can return to just look at the leaves!

One of my amaryllis bloomed for me today. I have others not yet in bud, and I will sadly miss their glory.

My calamondin is going crazy with both blooms and little tiny limes.  The corner of my kitchen is carpeted in white petals each morning and many times both evening and mornings the first floor is filled with a somewhat cloying fragrance of the blossoms.  I may miss most of the fruits as they turn ripe!

My birds will be fed and watered by the same person who is taking care of my plants.

I will also miss the "blue ribbon" sunsets, but maybe I will be able to photograph some new ones at a different latitude with a different attitude.

The odd thing about all of this is that I just want to get going so I can fill pockets full of memories and the mind full of photos and then get home again to a routine.  I will have a wonderful time as we will be with precious friends, but I keep thinking of all the challenges and just want it all to be good memories so I can reminisce back in my bed in my own home.  Clearly money and opportunity are wasted on me.

If I can stay healthy, I will return to blog again.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Resolution on that Banking Issue

This snow is long gone.

Called the bank (800 number), since I have no bank nearby to walk into. "They" being a computerized program said the wait would be between 59 minutes and one and a half hours. I love that 59 minutes math as if they had some kind of micro efficiency over their services. Maybe they should just hire more staff...but that would cut into the millions in profits and millions in salaries of those at the top! The computer system did say I could just push "any" key and they would "capture" my number and call me back when someone was able to assist me. I pushed the hashtag key and resisted the urge to also push FU. 

They did call me back in a little over an hour and "Bill from Montana" was the person who called me back.  That little cutesy response was to assure me that I was not talking to someone in Mumbai or Bangkok and that my bank hired good old boys who needed jobs in the USA.  "Bill" had a slow gravelly voice and a tired voice as if had just come in from hours of rounding up the steers and had put out his last cigarette.  I tried to joke and he patiently ignored that and continued in a droll voice---maybe he was an out of work actor?

He assured me that the new $25 monthly fee was because I had a "core" agreement with the bank that required I maintain a balance of 5K.  When I asked if this meant average monthly balance he said "No.  A daily 5k balance."  I calmly assured him I had another local bank that could waive those types of fees.  He responded that he could fix this immediately by putting me under a new agreement requiring a direct monthly deposit of a minimum of 250 dollars and no average balance maintenance.  He moved me over to the new agreement, re-deposited the 25 dollar withdrawal and told me he hoped I would have a nice day.  He assured me I would receive the new agreement in the mail.  (My bank is not Wells Fargo, but this gives you a clue how sneaky all of these big banks are and why you should write your Congressperson to support and not weaken the Dodd-Frank bill.)

I will read the new agreement with a spyglass, I can assure you.

Friday, February 02, 2018


Not my boat and a photo from this summer.
I have just spent over an hour waiting for a response on the phone...they warned me with their robotic answering machine when I got the connection that efficiency was not in their mission statement! I have lost my pin number for the Experian Credit account and I want to check that no one has stolen my ID and I want to freeze my account and I want my free annual report. You know, Experian is one of three companies that make money by collecting all of your financial data without having to ask you for permission, storing it on their servers without having to guarantee it will not be stolen by hackers, and then they can make you waste your time on the phone while running ads to sell you one of their products to protect this data that they have now compromised.  Days like these make me wish Elizabeth Warren was President.  She would have all three of these companies before the court and make them pay to obtain and keep our us, that is.  She would also make them do the reporting to the law officers and us when there was unusual activity, and do it for free.

I am sure that the average consumer would be willing to collect needed information for a loan for their bank when needed without this.

Our Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is being stripped of its enforcement powers by this administration...because Lord knows we do not need more laws and regulations to protect us from big business and big banks!   (And it is really a hassle for those small real estate offices to prove they are not being discriminatory in their sales to minority folks.)  SNARK!  As another jab, my bank just informed me last month they are charging me a monthly $25 fee on an average balance of over 7K!!  But that is another challenge as I am now looking for a new bank. 

I did check with Equifax right after the breach, but since millions of accounts were stolen it will take the "dark web" crooks a while to get to my name.   I also was putting this off for Experian, because I knew it would be a mountain to climb not being able to find my password on this in any file I have.  

Sorry for the rant, but I just had to explode while listening to lousy jazz on my phone right now.

I do need a trip.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I got all but ONE of the words.

(Thanks to  Grannie Annie, I do this challenge once in a while.)

Bloody hell!” Jeff said angrily as he tore off his diving mask.  “What was that all about?”

I remained silent trying to collect my thoughts.  I collapsed onto the gunnel of the boat and pulled off my flippers while watching the light rain make circles on the calm surface of the lagoon.  I had lost some of my confidence and just wanted to catch my breath.  I released the tank strap and carefully lowered the tank to the deck between my legs.  The rush to the surface had been tempered with caution, not wanting to get the bends but wanting to reach the boat with the fastest but safest speed.

Our Ranger who had been tending the boat was confused at our early return.  He took his shepherding of the movie crew seriously.  His name was Byron, but we called him Apollo since he also wrote poetry and had published a small dictionary of poetic phrases many years ago after the war.  He was an odd duck and actually used to be a submarine pilot in his younger days.   He took my tank and fitted it into the side clamp and then helped Jeff with his gear straps.

“I got the shot, Jeff.  I got the shot.” I repeated slowly and quietly as I started to breathe normally again.

Byron had started the Torqeedo engine, it was one of the newer German electric outboards and ran with that quiet German engineering and precision.  We would not have heard it while diving and only would know if Apollo had put the engine in gear and we looked up and saw the bubbles of the propeller.

I looked at Apollo's questioning face and said, “Bunch of black-tips moved in over the wreck.  They were sweeping back and forth in some feeding frenzy, but I sure did not see what they were eating.  I got some great photos and a small bit of video, though.”  I pulled my underwater camera away from the clamp and began to remove the casing.

“Jesus, Melinda, you could have been dancing with the angels right now, for as close as you got!”

“But I got the shot.” I smiled.

(Word Prompts for January: )

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Photo taken our first year in this new house when morning mist caught the sun's rays.
The day is very gray and rainy, and while I love this moodiness in my British mystery shows, I do get somber when I have been inside for too many days with nothing to call me outside. My groups of acquaintances are all in stasis and many of my projects have come to a close or a long pause. It would be nice to go out to lunch with friends, but most are in Florida soaking up the sunny weather. Hubby has been sick on and off, which at our age can hang heavy on one's mind. So I get nostalgic and put on a Carole King DVD.  This is music which I had listened to in my mid-twenties (although it was a reel to reel tape back then) right after we were married and living in a small apartment on a tiny island in the South Pacific, far from family and friends.   We were more than enough for each other as newlyweds with so much to explore and new jobs to challenge us.

I remember a man who was decades older than us managing a fishing plant there saying "You will remember these days as some of the best of your lives, so pay attention."  We were having so much fun, and he was right as I look back on those times with a smile.

So today I am also trying to get my scanner, which is acting up, to scan some of the old slides that bring back memories.  Who were those naive kids with the world in a bucket of sunlight???

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Follow-up to the Prior Post

This is a follow-up to the prior post. So if you have not read that, go there and I will wait......

The photo in the prior post was taken while touring Fort Charles a formerly British fort in Jamaica in Port Royal at the mouth of Kingston Bay.   This fort was built in 1654 after the British routed the Spanish on this island. It is a minor tourist attraction mainly because it shows how an earthquake (actually two) can bury and twist buildings in the sand on a Caribbean Island.

I was there in 2011. What made me go looking for these photos was an article I read last week in The Guardian warning British citizens to be careful in touring Jamaica and to not leave their resort unless with a resort guide. It seems that crime, especially in the area of Montego Bay, has risen. Jamaica has always had a reputation for being an edgy place to tour. We were mildly uncomfortable there, but never felt we were in danger.  We freely toured the small town where our resort was located and while there were EXTREMELY polite beggars, we never felt concerned. We also took a small tour to Kingston town and other areas on the island. That was the day I took the photos in this post.

OK, now back to my question on the photo of the school children. They are certainly neat and proper. Maybe middle school age? In America a middle school group of kids would not be this composed. Boys would be poking boys and girls would be giggling, maybe using cell phones if the teachers let them.  American children might be too jaded to even look at a crowd of tourists,  boring!

And, here is my take for what it is worth.

The girl on the far left is wondering if she would ever get to America perhaps.  The girl in the middle is checking out the clothes of some of the American children that were part of a family tour.  Maybe she will be a fashion designer someday.  The girl on the right is downright curious about something one of the tourists is doing.  Not sure, as I did not look behind me.

Clearly, the girl with her arms crossed is a ring-leader, and perhaps a future politician.  Something significant is going on in her brain.  I feel sorry for her mama. The girl in the middle is looking for an "in."  There is always an angle to everything and she is wishing she had the freedom to enter the tourist crowd.  The two larger girls on the right reveal all the sadness of poverty and isolation and lack of hope.  

In the photo above, the angry one on the right is the one the world has to deal with.  There is an opportunity here, and also a big chance to fail her.  I would not want to cross her because she is making a list and checking it everyday.

Now we come to the boys.  They have it a bit easier in this culture.  The bulk of the workload and responsibility falls to the females in Jamaica.   The two taller boys on the far left might be business leaders some day.  They are evaluating and thinking outside the box and fearless in their evaluation of what they can accomplish.  The boy on the far right is the clown and troublemaker.  Maybe he can be a Bob Marley entertainer if he does not end up in jail.  The short boy in the middle wants to be playing ball or cricket somewhere.  Anywhere but this stupid tour.

Oh well, it is a different way to spend a winter afternoon and reminisce.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Photos Can Tell a Story

A few years ago while on travel I took this photo. Clearly, the schoolchildren are curious about me or something around me. Some have different expressions. I love this photo as it can tell so many stories. What story does it tell you?